Last month I wrote this post about myths surrounding extended rear facing car seats, and it was very popular so I thought I’d do another post about car seats; this time about the most common mistakes that people make and how to ensure that you avoid them, and keep your children as safe as possible.
Here are my top car seat safety mistakes and how to fix them!
1) Incorrect strap/headrest height
The annoying thing about kids is that they just keep on growing.
In rearfacing seats, the straps need to be level with or just below the shoulders to keep the child safe in a collision. In harnessed forward facing seats, the opposite applies; the straps need to be level with or just above the shoulders.
Luckily for us, the headrest is automatically adjustable in our Axkid Minikids, so as long as the straps are pulled tightly then we can’t go far wrong. If your straps are fixed, check periodically that they’re still in the right place.
2) Straps are too loose or twisted
My children complain all the time that their straps are too tight, but like the mean mummy I am I don’t care. At the end of the day if the straps aren’t tight enough, the child will be able to wriggle out or in a collision they risk being catapulted from their seat which seems less than ideal really.
Make sure your child is sat back right in the seat – this is really important with babies – and tighten the straps as far as you can. If you can pinch the strap between your fingers, it’s too loose.
It would be pretty hard to over-tighten car seat straps, but if you’re worried then check that you can get a finger between your child’s chest and the harness.
Ensure that the straps aren’t twisted and that chest pads in infant car seats are placed on the chest rather than shoulders.
3) Using coats and padded clothing in the car
Padded clothing makes car seat straps unsafe.
In the event of a sharp brake, the padding will constrict and the straps won’t hold the child inside.
If it’s cold, use a blanket over the top of the straps, but do not put babies in snow suits or children in coats inside a car seat.
This is something I didn’t know. I absolutely admit that my daughter’s first journey home from the hospital was in a snow suit; I just didn’t know any better. Now I do, and so do you.
4) Moving too soon into a forward facing seat
This is a big one, and there isn’t any real explanation. For some reason parents can rush to move babies up to their next stage car seat and often these are forward facing.
Group 0 infant car seats are perfectly adequate for children right up to the weight limit and are much safer than turning them forward facing.
There are usually removable foam inserts and head huggers, so if you think your child has outgrown the seat ridiculously early (and isn’t above the weight limit) then make sure you aren’t missing something before moving them into the next stage seat.
It is five times safer to keep your child rear facing until they hit at least four years old. If you need convincing, read this post about why you should keep your children rear facing for as long as possible.
5) Using an unsafe car seat
Some car seats have an expiry date stamped on the manufacturer’s label (usually on the sides or base). Others will have the date the seat was manufactured. Most modern car seats can be used for six years, after which the plastic will start to degrade and they are deemed unsafe.
Ensure that you check this before use if it’s not a new seat, for example if it belonged to a sibling.
If you think that a car seat might be damaged, do not use it.
Never use a car seat if you don’t know its history, as it may not be safe.
Even a low impact crash can compromise the safety of a car seat, although it might still look fine from the outside. There are plenty of items that you can most definitely buy second hand, but car seats really aren’t one of them.
If you’re looking for a good deal on a car seat, many retailers have sales on older models several times a year. Cashback sites and points cards can also help to recoup some of the spend.
You can check in case of products recalls on the Trading Standards website.
6) Using an incompatible car seat
Check that is it compatible with your make and model of car. This is usually something people do when purchasing their car seats but if you change your car down the line, it might not occur to you to re-check.
7) Installing incorrectly
Research has shown that a huge amount of car seats aren’t installed correctly, and if a car seat isn’t installed properly then it won’t do it’s job.
ISOfix makes it harder to install a seat incorrectly but they are no safer than correctly installed belted seats.
Installing car seats can seem daunting, especially if there are tethers, but there are lots of official YouTube videos out there to help. Always install it according to the instructions and get it checked if possible, it should not wobble or move around.
If you are using a baby carrier, the bar needs to be forwards to act as a roll bar when the car seat is in situ.
8) Storing the car seat improperly
When it’s out of the car, you need to ensure that you store your car seat properly. That means wrapping it up and keeping it somewhere dry, and not in a damp garage or basement where it might get mouldy.
Leaving a car seat unsecured or in the boot to rattle around can damage it and make it unsafe.
9) Exceeding the weight limit
Make sure that you weigh your child periodically so that you know when they are approaching the weight limit for their seat.
Most ISOfix seats have a limit of 18kg, which is around four years but can come much earlier (or later). Some belted seats like the Axkid Minikids that we have are safe for use up until the child his 25kg, which offers more peace of mind.
10) Letting your children sit in the seats after being in the sandpit
Not dangerous but oh my god you’re going to regret it.
Same goes for letting them snack in the car. Oh my life. You might not even realise until you take the car seats out. Yeurgh.
Now for some amazing news!
You can WIN an Axkid Minikid car seat worth £350!
As an Ambassador for Axkid, I have the amazing opportunity to offer one of their brilliant Axkid Minikid 2018 car seats (suitable from 0-25kg) to a lucky winner.
Enter below as many times as you like for a chance to win!
To read about why I’m working with Axkid and what this involves, please read this post!
For our review of the original Axkid Minikid, which are shown in this post, go to this post here!